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The Centre, housed at Senate House in Bloomsbury, at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, was created in September 2021.
The Centre for the Politics of Feelings is devoted to the interdisciplinary understanding of how emotions and feelings can be active causes but also targets of political behaviour in diverse socio-political contexts.
The Centre will address from a multi-disciplinary perspective, how affect and emotions and their underlying neurophysiological mechanisms shape political behaviour in intricate couplings with rationality, as well as how politics shapes and exploits affect and emotions. The Centre represents a focused, timely and multidisciplinary endeavour to give a new answer to an age-old question:
What does it mean to be a political animal in the 21st century of 'emo-cratic' politics, alternative facts, social media, precarious health and populism?
The longer-term aim is for this academic Centre to become a world-leading hub for the continuing understanding of how reason and social passions, in their inextricable symbiosis, define our political engagement with the social world.
The Centre for the Politics of Feelings, funded by the NOMIS Foundation, is a partnership between the School of Advanced Study , the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Philosophy ,at University of London and the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, and is directed by Professor Manos Tsakiris.
While the study of affect and emotion has a long history in psychological sciences and neuroscience, the very question of how visceral states have come to the forefront of politics remains poorly understood. The concept of visceral politics captures how the physiological nature of our engagement with the social world influences how we make decisions, just as socio-political forces recruit our physiology to influence our socio-political behaviour. This line of research attempts to bridge the psychophysiological mechanisms that are responsible for our affective states with the historical socio-cultural context in which such states are experienced. We review findings and hypotheses at the intersections of life sciences, social sciences and humanities to shed light on how and why people come to experience such emotions in politics and what if any are their behavioural consequences. To answer these questions, we provide insights from predictive coding accounts of interoception and emotion and a proof of concept experiment to highlight the role of visceral states in political behaviour.